The First Rule Of Talking About Vaccine Mandates? Don’t Say “Mandate”
We looked at over 2.35 million online messages to understand how communicators should talk about vaccine mandates.
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Vaccine Mandates Are Coming, But Using The Wrong Language Enflames Opposition:
BIG TAKEAWAY: Don’t Say “Mandate,” And Definitely Don’t Say “Passport.”
Anti-vaccination voices most likely to refer to vaccine “passports.”
The word “mandate” is used almost equally by pro- and anti-vaccination voices.
Referring to vaccine “requirements” elicits the most support and least opposition.
SLEEPER TAKEAWAY: First mandate announcements brought strong opposition, but opposition fades with each subsequent announcement.
Don’t Say “Mandate”...and Definitely Don’t Talk About “Passports”
As businesses and government officials continue to roll out rules about proof of vaccination in different public spaces, there has been a significant difference in the way that Americans opposed to these measures talk about them and the way supporters talk about them.
The word “passport” seems to be used almost entirely by voices of opposition:
Americans Referring To Vaccine “Passports” Online (Past 2 Weeks)
People using some version of the word “mandate” (incl. mandatory, mandating, etc.) are almost evenly split between support and opposition:
Americans Referring To Vaccine “Mandates” Online (Past 2 Weeks)
But the word that is shared most by supporters, and least by opponents, is some version of the word “require” (incl. requirement, required, etc.):
Americans Referring To Vaccines Being “Required” Online (Past 2 Weeks)
The First Mandates Were Opposed Most Strongly, Less Opposition To Each Subsequent Mandate
Americans opposed to vaccine mandates were most vocal online on August 3 when New York City announced vaccination mandates (one of the first high-profile local governments to do so). However, by August 11, voices in favor of mandates celebrated a similar announcement by California Governor Gavin Newsom, while there was no noticeable uptick in conversation from opponents on that day.
The bottom line? Supporters of vaccine requirements are more emboldened--and opponents are more resigned--with each announced mandate. There appears to be no growing backlash against vaccine requirements - in fact, the opposite appears to be true. The more vaccine requirements are announced, the less pushback the announcements get from Americans opposed to them. Opposition appears to be waning with each new announced mandate, and that’s great news for public health...as long as supporters don’t make linguistic blunders like referring to “passports.”